Friday, July 12, 2024
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – Dec. 13, 2023

School bus safety

Dear Editor,
I drive school buses in the Pontiac, picking up students in the Shawville area and transporting them to school in Fort Coulonge. School buses are large vehicles, some 37 feet long, and are nearly as wide as the lane on the highway. They are yellow for high visibility and are equipped with overhead flashing yellow lights warning drivers the bus is preparing to stop and that they too must prepare to stop. Buses are equipped with overhead flashing red lights and a stop sign deployed from the side of the bus, itself with flashing red lights on both the front and the back, indicating that children are embarking or disembarking and that drivers must stop.
Thankfully, most drivers obey the law and stop for the bus. Unfortunately, some do not. How many? More than you expect. In just over three months since the start of the 2023-2024 school year, my bus alone has had drivers pass the bus while stopped 10 times. The following is a brief summary of when and where.

  • 30-Aug-23 4:20 p.m. First day of school. In Shawville at the corner of Lang and Centre. A grey Kia SUV rounded the corner onto Lang Street, went through my lights as students disembarked and pulled into the butcher shop parking lot.
  • 18-Sep-23 5:00 p.m. White SUV on 303S. The driver slowed behind bus when the yellow lights were flashing and then passed as the bus stopped and activated the reds.
  • 10-Oct-23 7:55 a.m. In Shawville at the corner of Clarendon and Elizabeth. The driver of a blue van on Elizabeth tired of waiting for students to board and proceeded around the corner and through the red lights.
  • 16-Oct-23 4:33 p.m. In Shawville at the corner of Clarendon and Elizabeth. The driver of a grey Ford Focus accelerated to try, unsuccessfully, to beat the reds.
  • 01-Nov-23 4:07 p.m. On highway 148 near Bryson. A Black SUV appeared to slow down while a half mile ahead of the bus so the student disembarked. The driver changed his mind and did not slow further. I honked my horn when the student was in front of the bus and so the student stopped. While the SUV ran the reds at around 80 kph. That one was close.
  • 01-Nov-23 4:11 p.m. Yes, less than 5 minutes later. A grey van was exiting the Veterans Gas Bar on highway 148. The bus was stopped with the ambers on. Despite this, the driver continued to creep all the way through my lights. The lights weren’t red as I kept the door closed until it was safe for student to exit.
  • 13-Nov-23 08:40 a.m. The bus was stopped for several seconds before a red van ran the red lights.
  • 30-Nov-23 4:24 p.m. In Shawville at the corner of Lang and Centre. The bus was stopped in such a fashion as to completely block the intersection (remember 30-Aug?). The driver of a grey Jeep Cherokee used the butcher shop parking lot as a roadway to get past the school bus onto Lang Street.
  • 04-Dec-23 4:24 p.m. On highway 148 at Giant Tiger, a white van tried, unsuccessfully, to beat my reds.
  • 06-Dec-23 8:24 a.m. Highway 148 near Bryson. A black SUV passed my bus when the ambers were. The road had a double yellow line.

From the SAAQ website, drivers face a fine of $200-$300 and nine demerit points off their license. Cyclists too face fines: $80-$100.
Folks, these are your children, your grandchildren, or perhaps your great-grandchildren. If not yours, then your neighbours’. While time is valuable, there is nothing so urgent in your daily schedule that it is worth taking a life to save the 60 seconds that stopping for a school bus will take.
So what can be done? Encourage the police to prosecute these offenses. Contact politicians and encourage them to change the law: Have the fines increased – dramatically. Make traffic cameras required equipment. Put front plates on vehicles. Change the law so that if the driver cannot be identified, the fine goes to the vehicle owner.
Ten times in three months. There are 9,500 buses on the road each day in Quebec. Let’s take action before someone is killed.

Brian Graham, Shawville

No research

Dear Editor,
There is no research being done.
Quote from Jane Toller in the Pontiac Independent: “I think you will be impressed with the research being done.”
Deloitte is to prepare a report with a predetermined outcome that the incinerator is the best financial option for all concerned, namely, garbage contributing cities and municipalities, the province, and potential investors. Deloitte is tasked with preparing a report outlining all the steps to follow to make the incinerator a reality.
Mme Toller is not researching whether this proposal is a good fit for the Pontiac. She is not following a proper process of analysis in assessing the concept, such as public buy-in and consultation, a pre-feasibility study, followed by a full feasibility study including social and environmental factors, and then financial models followed by a business plan. This would constitute best practices for such a complex proposal with such a high cost.

The constituents have been subjected to the DAD approach; decide, announce and defend. She, and a majority of her council, decided behind closed doors to make the project a reality, announced the decision to the people and are now defending their decision.
After reviewing the terms of the agreement with Deloitte, one can conclude that we are being railroaded into this project. It is disturbing and disappointing that so many council members have jumped on the train.
Here is what Deloitte is to do:
Task 1: A plan on how to proceed. This section includes discussing “the status of discussions with Hydro Quebec on the structure of a potential Power Purchase Agreement.” Interesting that we don’t know if the province will buy the power, how much they might pay and whether they will even let Ontario’s garbage into Quebec, yet we are going full steam ahead with a business plan.
Task 2: Find out how much garbage we can get from other municipalities for the next 30 years and estimate the cost to them to ship it to us and pay to landfill. As if this is even a possibility that we would offer to bury 400,000 tons of garbage. This information will be used in task 6.
Task 3: Find the best burning technology options for our area, opportunities for selling low temperature energy to industries, and how much it will cost to make the garbage burner look pleasing. This information will also be used in task 6.
Task 4: This task is confusing, but I think it boils down to this: who is going to design the garbage burner, who will pay for it including financing options, and then who will run and maintain it. Now for all this we will need a contract with a third party. Will we contract a company to build the facility and then transfer it to an operator. Option 2, we contract a company to do it all, design, build , finance and run it. Option 3, we find a company to design, operate, build and maintain. I guess they finance it themselves? Again, all this research is considered in task 6.
Task 5: The Financial Model: This is all about the financial calculations. In this task, they compare the costs of burying against the costs of burning and selling power. This section is based on numerous assumptions: financing, inflation, residual values, technical, electricity output, revenue from the sale of power to the province, and procurement and construction timelines. Again, all this is considered in Task 6.
Task 6: There are two documents to be provided. One the Initial Business Case. This will be a summary of all the previous steps and will include a recommendation on the next steps to be taken to move the project forward. The other will be The Financial Model which will provide a summary of the key financial funding and investment assumptions associated with each option and based on those assumptions a summary of the key recommendations for the Pontiac EFW.

Linda Lafortune, Otter Lake

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